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Number Of Deer In The City Is Unsustainable

The number of deer inside city limits is unsustainable. The amount of monetary damage the whitetail deer costs to New Yorkers, and nationwide, is astronomical. Let’s delve deeper.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, in 2002 NYS farmers estimated their deer related crop damages at $59 million. Roughly a fourth of those farmers indicated deer damage was a significant factor. State Farm insurance estimates that there are over 70,000 deer-vehicle collisions annually, with the average national property loss being over $4,000. Then there’s the personal property damage.

The deer will eat your hostas, your flowers, your herbs, your vegetables, and basically whatever various shrubbery they find palatable. Lastly, lyme disease is rising drastically in the northeast United States. New York State is considered high risk due to tick densities in the deer population.

There have been mixed reactions to the idea of culling the city’s deer population. Sadly, many of the reactions are predictable. The feeling of shooting deer with arrows being “truly heartbreaking” is not unexpected. We have Walt Disney and one of his animated movies to thank for that (think talking animals & other various forms of anthropomorphism).

Let’s look to Cornell University, an Ivy League school not too far down the road from us. They had circa 100 deer on campus that had become a nuisance.

They tried tubal ligation on their female deer (doe). They paid $1,200 per doe, and undoubtedly would have paid far more, per animal, without the help of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. This method actually had the opposite of the desired effect. Through the complexities of the whitetail deer breeding world, the tubal ligation actually drew in more deer. Cornell eventually abandoned their safe sex deer program, came to their senses, and utilized volunteer archers to cull the herd numbers. The results: the deer population on campus was reduced by half and the local food banks received generous donations to help the less fortunate.

Let’s remove the knee jerk emotion. I understand that some folks will recoil in horror at the thought of harming a sweet, innocent, animal. The fact remains that allowing volunteer archery hunters to cull the population is the most economically feasible method. The deer population inside city limits would be immediately reduced. The sportsmen and sportswomen participating in the cull would be performing a service to the city, at no cost to the city, and actually a cost to the hunter themself. And our local food banks would be see their freezers filled with delicious, organic meat that will go great lengths in helping our burgeonin homeless population. An anecdotal tale of a wounded deer should not sway reason. Also, let us not forget, that nobody contributes more to wildlife conservation in this country than hunters and shooters, via the Pittman-Robertson Act. Let us not let unchecked emotion and anthropomorphism overrule a logically easy decision. I applaud city councilmen Tom Nelson and Grant Olson for having the fortitude to vote for the most reasonable and cost effective method.

Phil Ognibene is a Jamestown resident.

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